Any story about Centronics Data Computer begins with Robert Howard. Earlier in his career Howard worked with An Wang (Wang Laboratories) on computer systems for the casino industry. This led Howard to invent the dot-matrix printer, and soon after he started Centronics Data Computer with 7 employees in Hudson, NH about 1968. Centronics commercialized the small dot-matrix printer which helped fuel the explosion and popularity of personal computers. From this small start-up the company grew to more than 6,000 workers worldwide, including 3,000 in NH. Robert Howard passed in 2014 and is remembered for his curiosity and his generosity. He is credited with the invention and popularity of the dot-matrix printer and the parallel interface. During his lifetime he formed more than two dozen companies. After Centronics he later founded Presstek and Howtek in Hudson during the 1980’s.
Centronics purchased a 3 acre land parcel from Clement Industrial Park on Route 111 in 1969 with an agreement to begin construction of a commercial building costing no less that $70,000 within 6 months. Clement Industrial Associates was formed in the 1960’s by a group of Hudson residents desiring to foster the growth of industry within town. This park was built on a portion of the farmland of Harry and Mildred Clement. The old Clement Farmhouse which burned in 1935, was located on the corner of what is now Clement Road and Route #111, about where Tip Top Tree Service is now located.
By 1971 Centronics was operating from this building on Route #111, The company reached a prime about 1979 with annual revenues over $100 million. The business of small printers became very competitive; plus there were product problems and lawsuits. By 1982 Control Data Corporation (CDC) merged their printer business into Centronics; invested $25 million in the company and took the business control away from Howard. By 1987 Control Data sold the printer business to GENICON. Using the proceeds from this sale, Centronics purchassed EKCO Housewares in 1988 and the company was renamed EKCO.
This commercial property is located at 1 Wall Street in Hudson and shown in this C 1977 photo from the Historical Society Collection. This building is now a part of Century Park, LLC and is home to Nutfield Technology, Princeton Technical Corporation, American Infrared Solutions, and possibly others.